Harper extends hitting streak in style

Nationals prospect makes it 18 straight with homer, single

Bryce Harper is batting .471 (33-for-70) during his hitting streak. (Will Bentzel/MiLB.com)

By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com | May 14, 2011 5:36 PM ET

Bryce Harper's hitting streak is now of legal age.

Harper homered in the seventh inning to extend his streak to 18 games and added a single Saturday as the Hagerstown Suns blanked the Lakewood BlueClaws, 1-0.

MLB.com's preseason No. 3 prospect struck out in each of his first two trips to the plate. But he led off the seventh and went the opposite way against BlueClaws starter Garett Claypool, clearing the left-field fence for his ninth homer of the season and sixth during the streak.

Harper lined a two-out single to center field in the ninth to raise his average to .393, one point better than Greenville's Bryce Brentz for the South Atlantic League lead. Brentz, riding a Minor League season-high 25-game hitting streak, did not play Saturday.

"You know, if I get it, I get it," Harper told MLB.com on Friday night. "We're just trying to go out there and win a ballgame."

Not coincidentally, Harper started hitting the ball when he started seeing it. He was batting .231 before an April 19 eye exam that resulted in prescription contact lenses.

"It's actually made a huge difference," Harper said. "It's huge going in there and being relaxed and being able to see the ball and seeing pitches out of hand and things like that. Being able to go to the doctor and have that resource of having contacts and being able to go up and see makes the game ... pretty fun."

The No. 1 overall pick in last year's Draft is batting .471 (33-for-70) during the streak with 14 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 12 runs scored. He leads the Class A circuit with a .705 slugging percentage, ranks second with a .468 on-base percentage and 86 total bases, is tied for second in homers and is tied for third with 31 RBIs.

"I was comfortable in the beginning of the season," Harper said. "Even with that .230 average, I was still comfortabl, and getting some at-bats underneath me. Talking to Steve Garvey back when I was in college, and he said it's going to take you about 60 at-bats to get going. And I really listened to that ... and got it going. "

Robbie Ray (1-0) earned his first win after allowing two hits and striking out seven over six innings. The 2010 12th-round pick has not allowed a run in two starts as a pro.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. Bryan Horowitz contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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